How Extinction Patterns Affect Ecosystems

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Science  12 Nov 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5699, pp. 1141-1142
DOI: 10.1126/science.1106365

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Ecologists have vigorously studied the impact of species loss on ecosystem integrity. However, most of these studies invoke scenarios of biodiversity loss where the loss of species is random. In the real world, species extinctions are rarely random, as Raffaelli explains in his Perspective. He discusses two studies in very different ecosystems ( Solan et al. and Zavaleta and Hulvey), which show that the impact of nonrandom species extinctions on ecosystems is markedly different from that predicted by scenarios where extinctions occur at random.